It’s nice to be surprised with pleasant play, especially considering Mizzou’s recent play the last few games. The Tigers came into the game tonight with a challenge in front of them. They were terrible against a bad team two days ago and were facing a legit Power Conference opponent and a team hoping to build upon a healthy roster.
The energy out of the gate was obvious, and then the officiating dragged the game down into the dredges and made it a whole lot less fun and interesting. But buoyed by the strong play of their seniors, Missouri overcame serious foul trouble from their two top players to date this season, Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon. Here are some highlights courtesy of Mizzou Basketball’s twitter account:
Round 2️⃣ in Paradise #ToTheFinishLine pic.twitter.com/uh8i7JQVEu— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouHoops) November 18, 2018
- Point 1: It wasn’t a pretty game for either team in the shooting department. In a lower pace game as we were expecting every possession was important and Missouri (really it was Jordan Geist) found a way to get to the free throw line enough times to offset their poor shooting and clear the magical 1.00 mark on PPP, which was enough to win the game. Look at the beauty of FTA/FGA at over 0.50. That’s manufacturing offense.
- Point 2: A BCI nearing the 2.0 mark is good. Single digit turnovers is better. One thing I’m curious about is where this team ends up in the turnover area. Iowa State was obviously a low point but otherwise they’ve been fairly solid and the guards were even better, with only Pinson and Mark Smith (a charge) netting turnovers for the guards.
- Point 3: One of the primary things we knew about Cuonzo Martin before arriving in Columbia was that his teams rebounded. This is the second game in a row the Tigers lost the expected rebound margin. Oregon state coming into the game is one of the better rebounding teams this early in the season, but as often as Mizzou is clunking shots, they need to find a way to more offensive rebounds as a percentage of shots missed. Generating offense is going to be a theme all season long and the easiest way to points is crashing the glass. **full disclosure, there were actually a couple team offensive rebounds missed so the end results was -2.7, still could be better.
Your Trifecta: Jordan Geist, Kevin Puryear, Reed Nikko
This may go down as the quintessential Jordan Geist game. Cuonzo Martin loves Geist because of his will and his fire, and he single handedly willed this team to a win today. There’s no missing that Jordan has struggled from the floor so far this season, he’s only 3-17 from deep on the season. But he nailed a clutch 3 when Missouri needed one and found a way time after time to get to the free throw line.
Against Green Bay last year, Geist got hot from the floor and scored 28 points. This was only the second 20 point game of his Missouri career and this one was completely manufactured of Geist and his determination to win this game. He, along with Kevin Puryear, showed their young team a lot about determination.
TAKEAWAY: Mark Smith was well on his way to having a nice afternoon before he was fouled out by the officials. Of his five fouls, I think two, maybe three, were sound calls. His charge was the product of an offensive player not being able to do anything because he’d left the floor before the defender established position. If he and Tilmon are right and on the floor, I think Missouri still wins this game. As it was, they needed Kevin Puryear and Jordan Geist to be who they were.
Ronnie Suggs broke the damn stat machine. He played nine minutes and didn’t record a single stat. Not a rebound, or a turnover, or a foul. It’s actually a little weird to me seeing that line.
Mitchell Smith needs to be able to give this team something. He had a bad afternoon.
Overall, this was a very weird game, and the stats reflect as much. As I mentioned above the turnovers aren’t looking great for the bigs, but the guards are all in single digits which is a trend I’d be happy to watch the rest of the season.
The competition steps up next game against a very good Kansas State team.
Bruce Weber has a team who struggles to score but they can defend. They’ve currently got the 5th-rated defense in Adjusted Defense on KenPom. Their offense though isn’t good, and Matt will have more on that tomorrow in the preview. But the ball handling will really need to be sound, and I certainly hope the Tigers don’t get the same group of officials for this game as it’ll be nice to see them challenged a little physically.